Meeting the Dalai Lama
“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” – His Holiness
Last September was a difficult time in my life. Against my will, I was forced to move from Vancouver back to my hometown, Toronto. I had been diagnosed with a major illness, and wanted to be closer to family to get through this time. Moving into my parents’ home, being uprooted from a city I loved, and leaving my friends behind were all things I didn’t want to do.
As I went through this low period in my life, I began to spend a lot of time reading, writing in my journal, and reflecting. I also became very conscious about my nutrition, health, and wellness. I started to meditate in the mornings, kept up a regular yoga practice, and did more of the things I felt I needed to do for my soul.
The thing I most love about meditation, in particular, is that it gives me time to reconnect with my “Self”, and slow down the chatter of my “Mind”.
One day, while meditating, a feeling of peace came about me, and I started to hear a whisper. I call these whispers signs from my soul. As my mind stops racing, and my attention goes towards my breath, I reach a state of stillness. It is in this state of being that I feel connected to myself, and begin to hear these whispers.
The whisper I heard told me that I need to go to Dharamsala, in India.
Dharamsala is the home of Tibetan Buddhism, and home of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. I have no idea why this whisper came up, as I know very little about Buddhism, and have never wanted to go to Dharamsala before.
The first day I heard the whisper, I ignored it. However, as days and weeks went by, I noticed that this whisper kept coming up and growing louder and louder.
I asked some of my spiritual friends what this meant, and why I kept having this message. Being the amazing friends they are, they told me that it was a sign and I must follow it. Now, I haven’t always been one to believe in some of the hokey spiritual stuff out there, but the more and more I heard this whisper come up, the more I started to think that maybe it was a sign and I should go to Dharamsala.
Fast forward to April of this year, and I found myself on a plane to India. I had just finished my contract at the David Suzuki Foundation, and had time on my hands. I decided to just go for it and follow my heart.
My first day in Dharamsala, I went to visit the Dalai Lama Temple in the evening. It is a beautiful temple perched on the side of a mountain overlooking the Himalayan foothills. I walked through the temple, admired the beautiful golden statues of Buddhist monks, turned the prayer wheels, and lit an incense.
It was truly a peaceful experience.
As I was leaving the temple, one of the monks approached me and invited me to a prayer ceremony in honour of His Holiness. It turned out that the Dalai Lama was in Dharamsala for three out of the four days I was there. Prior to coming to Dharamsala I hadn’t even looked up his schedule, but knowing how much he travels around the world, suddenly I began to feel as if my whispers had guided me here for a reason.
The prayer ceremony for His Holiness was held at the Norbulingka Monastery, a beautiful monastery in Lower Dharamsala situated against the backdrop of the snowcapped Himalayan mountain range. There were about 300 people packed into the courtyard of the monastery, all sitting knee to knee on the ground. Everyone was sitting on mats they had brought, and the two Tibetan grandmas next to me were so kind as to share their’s with me. From speaking to the people around me, it seemed like many of them had travelled really far for this occasion.
I felt so lucky to be there.
The ceremony lasted for about 2 hours, and after it was over, the gates of the monastery opened and everyone made their way out. As I was leaving, I noticed about twenty people standing just outside the gates. It seemed like they were waiting for everyone to exit the courtyard, so I decided to follow my curiosity, and joined them.
After about half an hour, once everyone had left the courtyard, a few guards and police officers came out of the monastery and began moving us to the side of the road just outside the monastery.
What followed was one the most incredible moments of my life.
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, came out of the back of the monastery in a car and slowly passed by us with his window open. All of us immediately fell to our knees with our hands in prayer out of gratitude and respect. I was overcome with deep reverence. He had this air of beauty, compassion, and peace, and I felt a glowing warmth in my heart from being in his presence. He smiled and clasped his hands in prayer to bless everyone as he passed by all but 2 metres away from where I stood.
For a moment, he locked eyes with me, his grin became wider, and he bowed his head. I got goosebumps, and felt an electric wave flow through my entire being. Words don’t even begin to describe that sensation.
In that moment, I knew that by listening to the whispers of my soul, I had made the right decision. This very moment was the reason why I had to come to Dharamsala. This was what I had to experience at this point on my spiritual path.
By listening to the whispers of my soul, I have learned to honour who I really am, follow my intuition, and not let my mind get in the way. I am able to choose to go after what I really want to be happy, healthy, and whole. Best of all, listening to my whispers helps me grow as a person, and I often end up having incredibly beautiful experiences like this one.
So, what is your soul whispering to you?